Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 6: Other Lessons from Seed-Sowing
'First the blade, then the ear,
after that the full corn in the ear.'
From the work of seed sowing and the growth of the
plant from the seed, precious lessons may be taught
in the family and the school. Let the children and youth
learn to recognize in natural things the working of divine
agencies, and they will be enabled to grasp by faith unseen
benefits. As they come to understand the wonderful work
of God in supplying the wants of His great family, and
how we are to co-operate with Him, they will have more
faith in God, and will realize more of His power in their
own daily life.
God created the seed, as He created the earth, by His
word. By His word He gave it power to grow and
multiply. He said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the
herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after
his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth; and it was
so. . . : And God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:11, 12.
It is that word which still causes the seed to grow. Every [p. 81] seed that sends up its green blade to the sunlight declares
the wonder-working power of that word uttered by Him
who "spake, and it was"; who "commanded, and it stood
fast." Ps. 33:9.
Christ taught His disciples to pray "Give us this day
our daily bread." And pointing to the flowers He gave
them the assurance, "If God so clothe the grass of the
field, . . . shall He not much more clothe you?" Matt. 6:11,
30. Christ is constantly working to answer this prayer, and
to make good this assurance. There is an invisible power
constantly at work as man's servant to feed and to clothe
him. Many agencies our Lord employs to make the seed,
apparently thrown away, a living plant. And He supplies
in due proportion all that is required to perfect the harvest.
In the beautiful words of the psalmist:
"Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it;|
Thou greatly enrichest it;
The river of God is full of water;
Thou providest them corn when Thou hast so prepared
Thou waterest her furrows abundantly;
Thou settlest the ridges thereof;
Thou makest it soft with showers;
Thou blessest the springing thereof.
Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness;
And Thy paths drop fatness."
Ps. 65:9-11, R.V.
The material world is under God's control. The laws
of nature are obeyed by nature. Everything speaks and
acts the will of the Creator. Cloud and sunshine, dew
and rain, wind and storm, all are under the supervision of
God, and yield implicit obedience to His command. It is
in obedience to the law of God that the spire of grain bursts
through the ground, "first the blade, then the ear, after that
the full corn in the ear." Mark 4:28. These the Lord [p. 82] develops in their proper season because they do not resist His
working. And can it be that man, made in the image of
God, endowed with reason and speech, shall alone be
unappreciative of His gifts and disobedient to His will?
Shall rational beings alone cause confusion in our world?
In everything that tends to the sustenance of man is
seen the concurrence of divine and human effort. There
can be no reaping unless the human hand acts its part in
the sowing of the seed. But without the agencies which
God provides in giving sunshine and showers, dew and
clouds, there would be no increase. Thus it is in every
business pursuit, in every department of study and science.
Thus it is in spiritual things, in the formation of the
character, and in every line of Christian work. We have a part
to act, but we must have the power of divinity to unite with
us, or our efforts will be in vain.
Whenever man accomplishes anything, whether in
spiritual or in temporal lines, he should bear in mind that he
does it through co-operation with his Maker. There is
great necessity for us to realize our dependence on God.
Too much confidence is placed in man, too much reliance
on human inventions. There is too little confidence in the
power which God stands ready to give. "We are laborers
together with God." 1 Cor. 3:9. Immeasurably inferior
is the part which the human agent sustains; but if he is
linked with the divinity of Christ, he can do all things
through the strength that Christ imparts.
The gradual development of the plant from the seed is
an object lesson in child training. There is "first the blade,
then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." He who [p. 83] gave this parable created the tiny seed, gave it its vital
properties, and ordained the laws that govern its growth.
And the truths which the parable teaches were made a
living reality in His own life. In both His physical and
His spiritual nature He followed the divine order of growth
illustrated by the plant, as He wishes all youth to do.
Although He was the Majesty of heaven, the King of
glory, He became a babe in Bethlehem, and for a time
represented the helpless infant in its mother's care. In
childhood He did the works of an obedient child. He spoke
and acted with the wisdom of a child and not of a man,
honoring His parents and carrying out their wishes in
helpful ways, according to the ability of a child. But at
each stage of His development He was perfect, with the
simple, natural grace of a sinless life. The sacred record
says of His childhood, "The child grew, and waxed strong
in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was
upon Him." And of His youth it is recorded, "Jesus
increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and
man." Luke 2:40, 52.
The work of parents and teachers is here suggested.
They should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth
that at each stage of their life they may represent the natural
beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding naturally, as do
the plants in the garden.
Those children are most attractive who are natural,
unaffected. It is not wise to give them special notice, and
repeat their clever sayings before them. Vanity should
not be encouraged by praising their looks, their words, or
their actions. Nor should they be dressed in an expensive
or showy manner. This encourages pride in them, and
awakens envy in the hearts of their companions.
The little ones should be educated in childlike simplicity. [p. 84] They should be trained to be content with the small, helpful
duties and the pleasures and experiences natural to their
years. Childhood answers to the blade in the parable, and
the blade has a beauty peculiarly its own. The children
should not be forced into a precocious maturity but should
retain as long as possible the freshness and grace of their
The little children may be Christians, having an experience
in accordance with their years. This is all that God
expects of them. They need to be educated in spiritual
things; and parents should give them every advantage that
they may form characters after the similitude of the
character of Christ.
In the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with
unerring certainty. The reaping will testify as to what the
sowing has been. The slothful worker is condemned by
his work. The harvest bears witness against him. So in
spiritual things: the faithfulness of every worker is measured
by the results of his work. The character of his work,
whether diligent or slothful, is revealed by the harvest. It
is thus that his destiny for eternity is decided.
Every seed sown produces a harvest of its kind. So it
is in human life. We all need to sow the seeds of
compassion, sympathy, and love; for we shall reap what we sow.
Every characteristic of selfishness, self-love, self-esteem,
every act of self-indulgence, will bring forth a like harvest.
He who lives for self is sowing to the flesh, and of the
flesh he will reap corruption.
God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed
will have destroyed himself. Everyone who stifles the
admonitions of conscience is sowing the seeds of unbelief,
and these will produce a sure harvest. By rejecting [p. 85] the first warning from God, Pharaoh of old sowed the seeds
of obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. God did not compel
him to disbelieve. The seed of unbelief which he sowed
produced a harvest of its kind. Thus his resistance
continued, until he looked upon his devastated land, upon the
cold, dead form of his first-born, and the first-born of all in
his house and of all the families in his kingdom, until the
waters of the sea closed over his horses and his chariots
and his men of war. His history is a fearful illustration of
the truth of the words that "whatsoever a man soweth, that
shall he also reap." Gal. 6:7. Did men but realize this, they
would be careful what seed they sow.
As the seed sown produces a harvest, and this in
turn is sown, the harvest is multiplied. In our relation
to others, this law holds true. Every act, every word, is
a seed that will bear fruit. Every deed of thoughtful
kindness, of obedience, or of self-denial, will reproduce
itself in others, and through them in still others. So
every act of envy, malice, or dissension is a seed that
will spring up in a "root of bitterness" (Heb. 12:15),
whereby many shall be defiled. And how much larger
number will the "many" poison. Thus the sowing of good
and evil goes on for time and for eternity.
Liberality both in spiritual and in temporal things is
taught in the lesson of seed sowing. The Lord says,
"Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters." Isa. 32:20.
"This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also
sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also
bountifully." 2 Cor. 9:6. To sow beside all waters means
a continual imparting of God's gifts. It means giving
wherever the cause of God or the needs of humanity [p. 86] demand our aid. This will not tend to poverty. "He which
soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." The sower
multiplies his seed by casting it away. So it is with those
who are faithful in distributing God's gifts. By imparting
they increase their blessings. God has promised them a
sufficiency that they may continue to give. "Give, and it
shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and
shaken together, and running over, shall men give into
your bosom." Luke 6:38.
And more than this is wrapped up in the sowing and
the reaping. As we distribute God's temporal blessings, the
evidence of our love and sympathy awakens in the receiver
gratitude and thanksgiving to God. The soil of the heart
is prepared to receive the seeds of spiritual truth. And He
who ministers seed to the sower will cause the seed to
germinate and bear fruit unto eternal life.
By the casting of the grain into the soil, Christ
represents the sacrifice of Himself for our redemption. "Except
a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die," He says, "it
abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
John 12:24. So the death of Christ will result in fruit
for the kingdom of God. In accordance with the law of the
vegetable kingdom, life will be the result of His death.
And all who would bring forth fruit as workers together
with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The
life must be cast into the furrow of the world's need.
Self-love, self-interest, must perish. But the law of
self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation. The seed buried
in the ground produces fruit, and in turn this is planted.
Thus the harvest is multiplied. The husbandman
preserves his grain by casting it away. So in human life, to [p. 87] give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life
that is freely given in service to God and man. Those
who for Christ's sake sacrifice their life in this world,
will keep it unto life eternal.
The seed dies to spring forth into new life, and in this
we are taught the lesson of the resurrection. All who
love God will live again in the Eden above. Of the human
body laid away to molder in the grave God has said,
"It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it
is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in
weakness; it is raised in power." 1 Cor. 15:42, 43.
Such are a few of the many lessons taught by nature's
living parable of the sower and the seed. As parents and
teachers try to teach these lessons, the work should be made
practical. Let the children themselves prepare the soil and
sow the seed. As they work, the parent or teacher can
explain the garden of the heart with the good or bad seed
sown there, and that as the garden must be prepared for
the natural seed, so the heart must be prepared for the
seed of truth. As the seed is cast into the ground, they
can teach the lesson of Christ's death; and as the blade
springs up, they can teach the lesson of the truth of the
resurrection. As the plants grow, the correspondence
between the natural and the spiritual sowing may be
The youth should be instructed in a similar way. They
should be taught to till the soil. It would be well if there
were, connected with every school, lands for cultivation.
Such lands should be regarded as God's own schoolroom.
The things of nature should be looked upon as a [p. 88] lesson book which His children are to study, and from
which they may obtain knowledge as to the culture of
In tilling the soil, in disciplining and subduing the land,
lessons may constantly be learned. No one would think
of settling upon a raw piece of land, expecting it at once to
yield a harvest. Earnestness, diligence, and persevering
labor are to be put forth in treating the soil preparatory to
sowing the seed. So it is in the spiritual work in the
human heart. Those who would be benefited by the tilling
of the soil must go forth with the word of God in their
hearts. They will then find the fallow ground of the heart
broken by the softening, subduing influence of the Holy
Spirit. Unless hard work is bestowed on the soil, it will
not yield a harvest. So with the soil of the heart: the
Spirit of God must work upon it to refine and discipline
it before it can bring forth fruit to the glory of God.
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The soil will not produce its riches when worked by
impulse. It needs thoughtful, daily attention. It must be
plowed often and deep, with a view to keeping out the
weeds that take nourishment from the good seed planted.
Thus those who plow and sow prepare for the harvest.
None need stand in the field amid the sad wreck of their
The blessing of the Lord will rest upon those thus
work the land, learning spiritual lessons from nature. In
cultivating the soil the worker knows little what treasures
will open up before him. While he is not to despise the
instruction he may gather from minds that have had an
experience, and from the information that intelligent men
may impart, he should gather lessons for himself. This is
a part of his training. The cultivation of the soil will prove
an education to the soul. [p. 89]
He who causes the seed to spring up, who tends it day
and night, who gives it power to develop, is the Author
of our being, the King of heaven, and He exercises still
greater care and interest in behalf of His children. While
the human sower is planting the seed to sustain our earthly
life, the Divine Sower will plant in the soul the seed that
will bring forth fruit unto life everlasting.
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"Like Unto Leaven"